Monthly Archives: June 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pretzel Bars

My husband has been out of the country for the past four days, so I thought he might like to come home to these. Also, my lovely neighbor from Bangladesh brought over some yummy food the other day and I thought these might be a nice way to say thank you. Sweet and salty…hard to resist! 🙂

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
One 12-ounce bag bittersweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups mini pretzels, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 9-by-13-inch pan with cooking spray.

In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda and salt. Using a mixer, beat the butter with both sugars at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract. On low, beat in the dry ingredients, just until incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips and pretzel pieces.

Spread the batter evenly in the pan. Press the batter down with a spatula. If you want to use the sprinkles, sprinkle them on top of the batter. Bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown.

Use a knife to go around the side of the pan to loosen the bars. Cut the bars in squares and serve.

What did the family think? It has chocolate. Enough said.

Where did this recipe come from? Food and Wine

photo from Two Peas and Their Pod

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Filed under After School Snacks, Definitely Making it Again, Desserts, Everybody Ate It, Vegetarian

Cheesy Meatballs

I was going to try and make some meatballs that I found in a recent issue of Food Network magazine. I had all of the ingredients, I thought, but then realized I didn’t once I got started cooking. Then there were some ingredients I didn’t buy because I knew I didn’t want to use them in this particular recipe and then I forgot one of the ingredients because I was trying to talk on the phone and cook at the same time…that rarely works out well for me. So, I am not going to write the original recipe and then tell you what I changed, I am going to just write it as I made it. It will be easier that way.

4 oz shredded mozzarella, divided
1 large shallot
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
1/3 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Dash of red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 lb ground turkey, beef, pork or chicken (I used chicken.)
Cooking Spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, pulse 2 oz mozzarella, shallots, tomatoes, basil, parmesan, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper until blended.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and combine with ground chicken. Mix until thoroughly combined.

Form golfball-sized meatballs from mixture, tucking a little bit of shredded mozzarella into the middle of each one. (If you run out of mozzarella while you are doing this, no big deal.)

Place meatballs on a foil-lined baking sheet lightly sprayed with cooking spray. (The foil is SUPER important. You will thank me when it’s time to clean up.)

Bake for about 15 minutes or until cooked through. Turn on broiler and cook for another 2-3 minutes just to get them a little brown on the top. (Watch them carefully.)

We had these with pasta.

Did I change anything? Yes, a lot. The only thing I didn’t mention at the top of this post is that the original recipe also called for frying them in oil before baking them. I skipped that step, too. Also, I changed the name of the recipe since they are clearly not what they started out to be.

What did the family think? Thumbs up!

Where did the original recipe come from? Food Network Magazine, March 2011, p. 114

photo from Food Network

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Filed under Definitely Making it Again, Easy, Everybody Ate It, Italian

Lemon Alfredo

This is a very kid-friendly dish, but the lemon zest gives it a more grown-up twist.

1 shallot
1 T butter
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 egg yolk
2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 cup grated pecorino
Salt and pepper, to taste
12 oz fettuccine

Cook fettuccine according to package directions.

Cook shallot in a skillet with butter over medium heat until golden.

In a bowl, whisk together cream, egg yolk and lemon zest.

Reduce heat to low and whisk into skillet with pecorino. Keep whisking until slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper.

Toss cooked fettuccine with sauce and top with more pecorino.

We had this with a green salad and some strawberries.

Did I change anything? The boys topped their pasta with a little Parmesan.

What did the family think? Thumbs up from everyone!

Where did this recipe come from? Food Network Magazine, March 2011, p. 89

photo from Food Network

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Filed under Definitely Making it Again, Easy, Everybody Ate It, Italian, Lent, Vegetarian

Best Lasagna I’ve Ever Made

There are several lasagna recipes here on MommaCooks, but my hubby declared this recipe to be the best lasagna I’ve ever made. I am going to have to agree with him.

5 Italian sausage links, casings removed
1/2 sweet yellow onion, diced
1 pinch of red pepper flakes
5 cloves garlic, minced
20 oz ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 cup baby spinach, chopped
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp fresh nutmeg, grated
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese (divided)
2 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded (divided)
4 cups of marinara sauce (homemade or store bought)
Lasagna noodles (no boil)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a skillet over medium heat, cook the Italian sausage (casings removed), making sure to break it up into crumbles. Add the onions and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. Once the meat is brown and the onion is tender, add the garlic and cook for 60 seconds, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and drain any grease.

In a large bowl, add ricotta, egg, spinach, basil, parsley, oregano, nutmeg, sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste, 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, and 1/2 a cup of mozzarella cheese. Combine until mixed thoroughly.

Layer a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with just enough sauce to cover the bottom of the pan. Lay however many lasagna noodles you need to cover the bottom of the pan. Spread half of the ricotta mixture on the noodles; add another layer of noodles; spread a bit more sauce on top of the noodles followed by the Italian sausage; add another layer of noodles then spread the last half of the ricotta on top. Finish with a layer of noodles and remaining sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle a bit more dried oregano on top of the cheese.

Bake covered for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Did I change anything? I didn’t have any oregano so I used Italian seasoning instead.

What did the family think? Two thumbs up from everyone!

Where did this recipe come from? For the Love of Cooking

photo from For the Love of Cooking


Filed under Definitely Making it Again, Everybody Ate It, Italian

Chile Relleno Casserole

There was a time in my life where all I would order when we went out for Mexican was a plate of chile relleno. Those days are over, but when I saw this recipe I just had to try it…for old time’s sake.

1/4 lb. ground chorizo
3 (7 oz) cans of whole green chiles
3 eggs
3 tbsp flour
3 tbsp non fat sour cream
1 (3 oz) can of sliced black olives
1 cup of low fat Mexican blend cheese (or more if you want)
1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
1 (15 oz) can red or green enchilada sauce
Sour cream (garnish)
Diced green onion (garnish)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook chorizo in a skillet until cooked through.

Combine eggs, flour, sour cream, olives, salt and pepper to taste then mix thoroughly.

Coat a baking dish with cooking spray. Add a layer of the chiles, and then egg mixture, then cheese, then chorizo, then black beans; repeat layers until gone. Top with enchilada sauce and a bit more cheese.

Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.

Top with sour cream and diced green onion.

Did I change anything? I added the chorizo and left out the olives.

What did the family think? The boys had been at a birthday party and were full of cupcakes and pizza, so they didn’t eat. Hubby liked it a lot more than he thought he was going to. He wished there had been more chorizo and that I had cut the peppers up so they weren’t so big.

Where did this recipe come from? For the Love of Cooking

photo from For the Love of Cooking

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Filed under Mexican, Spicy

Baked Salmon with Salsa

I often hear people say they don’t cook fish because they don’t know how, it’s intimidating, etc. Well, it doesn’t get any easier than this. If you are one of those people, this is a good place to start.

1 lb. salmon
Peach, peach mango or peach pineapple salsa (I just bought some in a jar.)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Spray a pan with cooking spray. Place the salmon (skin side down if it still has it) in the pan.

Pour the salsa over the salmon.

Cook for 15-20 minutes until done.

Did I change anything? No, but I wanted to share with you something I learned from the guy behind the fish counter yesterday. If you want your salmon to have less bones, get a cut closer to the tail than the collar.

What did the family think? Hubby and I were the only ones who had it and we both liked it.

Where did this recipe come from? Bad Girl’s Kitchen

photo from

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Filed under Definitely Making it Again, Easy, Fish, Lent, Six Ingredients or Less, Super Easy to Make

Emma’s Belgian Waffle Recipe

I don’t know who Emma is, but we loved her Belgian waffles this morning for our yummy Father’s Day breakfast.

2 egg yolks
5 tablespoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cups self-rising flour
2 cups warm milk
2 egg whites

In a large bowl, beat together egg yolks and sugar. Beat in vanilla extract, butter and salt. Alternately mix in flour and milk until blended well.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until they have formed soft peaks. Fold egg whites into batter and let stand for 40 minutes.

Spray preheated waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray. Pour mix onto hot waffle iron. Cook until golden brown and fluffy.

Did I change anything? I got tired of trying to make the egg whites form peaks, so I just put them in the batter. It was fine. I also didn’t wait 40 minutes before cooking the waffles. I let the batter sit for as long as it took me to clean out the dishwasher and refill it. Again, it was fine.

What did the family think? Thumbs up from everyone!

Where did this recipe come from?

photo from

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Filed under After School Snacks, Bread, Breakfast, Definitely Making it Again, Desserts, Everybody Ate It, Lent, Vegetarian

Strawberry Butter

I made this with store bought strawberries. We got some strawberry plants this week though, so hopefully I will be able to make this with our own strawberries soon.

1 pt. strawberries, hulled
3 T powdered sugar
1 cup butter, softened

Instructions: Combine all ingredients in a food processor and mix until smooth.

Pack into an airtight container and refrigerate.

Great on toast, pancakes, french toast, biscuits and waffles.

Did I change anything? I cut the amount of sugar in half. I would also like to try this with blueberries. One other variation I might try is to substitute cream cheese for the butter.

What did the family think? Yum!

Where did this recipe come from? our grocery store strawberry sampling fair

photo from Right at Home

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Filed under After School Snacks, Bread, Breakfast, Definitely Making it Again, Six Ingredients or Less, Vegetarian

Porcupine Meatballs

My 7-year old thought these were made out of porcupines. First graders are awesome! 🙂

1/2 cup uncooked long grain rice
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 pound ground beef, hamburger or turkey
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
1 cup water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

We had this with egg noodles and green beans on the side.

In a bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. Add beef and mix well. Shape into 1-1/2-inch balls.

In a large skillet, brown meatballs in oil; drain.

Combine tomato sauce, water, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce; pour over meatballs. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 hour.

Did I change anything? I only used half of the brown sugar so the sauce wouldn’t be so sweet.

What did the family think? I have to admit that this wasn’t my favorite dish, but the boys ate it right up with NO complaining. We also learned tonight that egg noodles are easier to eat with a spoon than a fork.

Where did this recipe come from? Taste of Home

photo from Taste of Home

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Filed under Everybody Ate It

Warm Tortellini and Chicken Pesto Salad

This was SO good, but it had pesto in it, so it’s really not a surprise. Pesto is good with just about anything.

1 small rotisserie chicken (about 2 cups of chicken)
1 pound tri-color tortellini
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 to 1/2 cup pesto
1 pre-packaged bag of baby spinach (optional)

Cut the chicken off the bone into small chunks and set aside.

In a large pot of salted water boil the tortellini for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-low heat. Add chicken and pesto and saute until warm.

When the tortelleni is done, drain and transfer to the saute pan and stir to combine. Turn the heat down to low and divide baby spinach among 6 bowls. Top each pile of spinach with tortellini and serve warm.

Did I change anything? I left out the spinach. I just wasn’t sure how it would go over with pasta even though my kids eat spinach all the times in salads and such.

What did the family think? It was a huge hit! Our oldest even asked if he could have the leftovers in his lunch the next day.

Where did this recipe come from? Cooking with My Kid

photo from Cooking with My Kid


Filed under Chicken, Definitely Making it Again, Easy, Everybody Ate It, Italian, Salad, Six Ingredients or Less, Super Easy to Make